I grew up in a Christian home, and I am so grateful for the way my parents raised me and my siblings. Throughout high school and in my first year of college, though, I really had allowed myself to become selfish. I was terribly unkind to my brother for years, I was selfish in dating relationships with girls, and my goals in life, even as a freshman at a Bible college, were fairly vague. I was only at Bible college because I had taken no initiative to seek out other options, and since my dad was a professor there, I knew I could take courses tuition-free. It was kind of a no brainer. Still, I thought, I would play soccer, date girls, get some gen-ed classes out of the way for free, and then in the next year or so, join my high school friends at their schools, places like Temple or Penn State. And that’s the way things were headed for about three months.
I played soccer, and the team was one of my college’s best ever, placing 5th in the Christian college national tournament in Florida. I dated a girl, but it was a very selfish relationship. I felt so empty inside. At the start of the spring semester, LBC had a week-long mission conference. The speaker was a guy named Sammy Tippit, and he shared the message of truth in a very compelling way. None of the hellfire and brimstone preaching I mentioned in the previous post. Instead, he said a phrase that stuck with me. He used an image that was a lot like that surgeon with a scalpel in my soul (as I mentioned in second post in this five-part series). He said we commonly think that revival is when life is so good, because the Spirit is being poured out like a cup overflowing with blessings. Instead, he said, revival often happens when things are so bad, the bottom rots out. I sat there thinking, “I feel inwardly like the rotten one, like life is falling apart.” My dating relationship was on the rocks, and would be over in a matter of weeks. The mission conference finished, and I started spring semester classes still at a low point. Because of my desire to take gen-eds, I took a junior level history class, and in that first month I was doing terribly. I failed an exam, and the prof made the bold decision to speak truth to me; again like a surgeon it hurt. In front of the whole class, he said, “Kime, I know you can do better than this.” With a familiar last name on campus, remember my dad was a prof and the campus was small, I felt super embarrassed. But it was a needed incision of truth.
During that first month of semester my dating relationship crashed and burned, and a few weeks later I went on a spring break mission trip to Guyana, South America, which was at the time the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere. My heart was ripe to begin to learn new truths of who our God is.
I finished out the semester, with a new determination. Even though I had those thoughts about taking only free-tuition gen-eds at Bible college, and then joining my friends at other colleges, I still had taken some Bible classes, and I was very impressed with the professors. Truth was getting into my life. The Bible college had chapel every weekday. Perhaps most impactful of all were the other students on campus. There were many Christian students who were really funny and inspiring and clearly they loved the Lord and wanted to serve him. Put together all this truth was seeping its way in my life.
Finally, I decided I needed to read the Bible for myself. I had definitely done this before growing up here and there, but this time was different. I was older now. Neither my parents or youth pastor was doing this for me, or requiring me to do it for a mission trip. I was choosing to read the Bible because I was genuinely interested in learning for myself.
You know where I started reading? Ecclesiastes. As I read, the words of the Teacher leapt off the page. It was like he was describing the last few years of my life. Similar to the Teacher, I had been seeking meaning in life through dating, sports, the enjoyment of life in America. Clothing. Food. Entertainment. All of it was fun, to a degree, but also ultimately fleeting, as the teacher repeats over and over. My life felt like the bottom was rotting out. Then there were those Guyanese Christians for whom it could be said their whole lives were rotten from birth, at least compared to American standards, and yet they were praising God with joyful hearts like nothing I had seen before. How could this be? If all that the Teacher pursued was fleeting, what then was meaningful?
In the next post, I’ll tell the rest of the story.